Ferndale looking at 3 options for community center upgrades

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 18, 2019

 Update options for the Gerry Kulick Community Center, which is more than 90 years old, include constructing a new community center, a simple renovation to the existing structure or adding on to the building.

Update options for the Gerry Kulick Community Center, which is more than 90 years old, include constructing a new community center, a simple renovation to the existing structure or adding on to the building.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FERNDALE — Back in November, the Ferndale City Council approved a 10-person task force of residents to look at potential upgrades for the Gerry Kulick Community Center.

It was the committee’s job to recommend to the city what it should do in regard to improvements at the community center, which now is more than 90 years old.

Director of Communications Kara Sokol said the city gave the committee a few different options to consider. One is a simple renovation to the Kulick Center, which would involve things such as new heating, floors and a paint job.

The second option, Sokol said, involves adding onto the community center at the current site, located at 1201 Livernois St.

“There’s a lot of different kind of opportunities, but basically we’d be adding enough space so that we could make a large-scale gymnasium,” she said. “Right now, we don’t have a full-size gym in there. And then we would renovate the existing part of the building to upgrade rental spaces and play areas and offices and things like that. It would be a change, but it would still remain at the same site.”

The last option is to build a brand-new community center that would be located at Martin Road Park. This is an idea that Sokol called “very preliminary.”

“No idea what it could look like, anything like that,” she said. “Just the idea that that could be an option, because we’ve already had — as part of the master land use plan — a splash pad approved there, which is going to need a changing and restroom facility. So we thought if a new center is what people are thinking, that might be a space to do it.”

Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler said her initial thoughts on the ideas presented were the positives of building a new community center, as the current building was designed for a school and not a recreation center.

“By staying in the current building and doing renovations, which would just include room updates ... we won’t be able to have much wiggle room with actually changing the layout of the building,” she said.

Wheeler feels that by building something new at Martin Road Park, they would be able to construct a recreation center that is built to be a recreation center and configured that way.

“It’ll just be designed to meet our needs for a rec center, as opposed to trying to make things work with the footprint we already have,” she said.

Four months after the committee’s approval, the group has wrapped up its meetings and given a recommendation to the city, which is to build a new center at Martin Road Park.

However, Sokol said, the recommendation by the committee was not unanimous and it’s unclear if this is the direction the city will go toward. This is where the residents of Ferndale will come into play.

That option … requires a lot more information before we could get to the point of recommending that,” she said. “Basically, where we’re going to go next is we’re going to do a series of focus groups or community groups, and we’re going to have a third-party moderator handle those groups for us and just get some more information about whether the residents in this community actually want and would support that — larger than just the 10-person committee.”

Sokol said the city is aiming to hold community meetings as early as late April or May, which also could lead to another community survey.

The research process on all these options, Sokol said, is expected to last through the summer.

“We don’t have anything we’re working towards with this,” she said. “It’s not like we need to decide by a certain point. We want to do absolutely everything to make sure any kind of decision making is right for the community.

“I just cannot emphasize enough that there’s not, at this point, there’s not necessarily going to be a new community center at Martin Road Park, just a recommendation that came from our initial fact-finding committee. I would say we’d probably be looking at fall before we even came up with a recommendation to take to (the City Council) for them to then start their process.”

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